On Friday, March 6, I will conduct Beethoven’s only oratorio, ”Christus am Ölberge” (”Christ on the Mount of Olives”) at the Mondavi Center with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and University Chorus, on a program that will also include Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, with Andrei Baumann, and the world première of “what remains” by composer Laurie San Martin. Below is a brief Q&A session with one of our three vocal soloists, tenor Kyle Stegall. Click on these links for interviews with Ms. Piccolino and Mr. Yoder.
Christian Baldini: Please tell us about your education and training. How did you start with music, and when did you decide to become a singer?
Kyle Stegall: I’ve been interested in professional singing and in teaching singing since my senior year of high school. All three of my degrees are in Vocal Performance, and were granted by the Universities of Missouri, Michigan, and Yale. My passion for communication is what has driven my studies, and the development of my performance and teaching career.
CB: What do you find remarkable about this work by Beethoven? What are your favorite moments in it?
KS: I am so looking forward to performing this dramatic and heroic work with Maestro Baldini and the musical forces at UC-Davis. I am particularly fond of the moment in which the clarinet introduces the prayer theme in Christ’s opening aria.
CB: What are some of your favorite pieces of music, whether in the operatic realm, chamber music, or on the concert platform? Which works would you like to be singing next?
KS: I am lucky to have a career engaged with a great breadth of the classical repertoire. I sing opera, recital, and concert work in equal proportions, which is actually quite rare. I value the opportunity to communicate in such varied stylistic-idioms and performance environments. Everything from the haute-contre repertoire of the French Baroque to world premieres of new repertoire for the solo voice, to staples of the recital canon, to large orchestrated works such as Christus am Oelberge hold consistent spots in my performance seasons. I am particularly fond of the Bach evangelists, the cycles of Benjamin Britten, and orchestrated masses/oratorios of the classical and bel canto repertoire. I’d like to find a spot for Britten’s War Requiem and Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’ete in coming seasons.
CB: What does art, and music in particular, mean to you? Is it relevant in our society today?
KS: Art and music are and will forever be relevant. Art is an intensely potent force for awakening in large numbers of people a dormant respect for our shared, vulnerable humanity. What our world needs is community. What our world needs is emotional honesty. Music is the crystallized sonic manifestation of these things. The question isn’t whether or not art is relevant. The question is whether or not we will make room in our hearts, budgets, schedules, and priorities for it.
In demand as an opera and concert soloist, Mr. Stegall is a celebrated interpreter of the Bach evangelists, and is often heard in the great oratorios of Handel and Haydn. His operatic repertoire spans the haute-contre heroes of the French Baroque to modern premieres.
Mr. Stegall is a proud alumnus of the universities of Missouri, Michigan, and Yale.